The Monarch Butterfly Dress By Luly Yang

The Monarch Butterfly Dress By Luly Yang


It’s a monarch butterfly translated to silk; all orange and red and black and white, with tiny crystals embedded in the fabric and soft black feathers tucked in along the strapless top. Its seaming is diagonal, whirling around the body as if chasing it; its skirt is multipaneled and seems to float, like it’s hovering over a blossom. It is the trademark dress by Seattle designer Luly Yang, and it’s also the first dress she designed — a symbol of a career metamorphosis, 10 years ago. Then, she was a graphic designer working with the architectural firm Callison, teaching aerobics in her spare time; now, she is an acclaimed couture designer and businesswoman specializing in custom bridal and formalwear, with an elegant downtown shop, a staff of seven and an international following. Thinking back a decade, Yang remembered that the butterfly dress was born as a contest entry. It was a fashion-design contest aimed at graphic designers and sponsored by a paper company, so entries had to be made from paper. “I thought, oh, I always loved butterflies,” said Yang, who is soft-spoken yet resolute. “I like what it represents, I like that it morphs from one thing to another, evolution and change. I decided to make a monarch butterfly.” Working from a picture 2 inches square, Yang manipulated the image on her computer, “cleaned it up, blew it up, got huge posters printed, and made a dress out of it. It took me many, many hours, in my condo — paper everywhere.” And from that process came a change of direction. “I decided to switch my medium; not change my career as a designer but switch my medium, fashion instead of graphics. So that’s how it started.” A cocoon opened; a designer was born.

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